Jason Setnyk

Great Big Interview with Sean McCann who celebrates five years sobriety

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Sean McCann Great Big Sea Cornwall Music Fest

Cornwall Ontario – Sean McCann, formerly of Great Big Sea, co-headlined Cornwall Music Fest this past summer. If you missed the concert or would like to see him again, here is your chance!

Music fans can enjoy an intimate evening with Sean McCann on Friday, November 25th, 2016 at Aultsville Theatre next to St. Lawrence College.

The reason Sean McCann is able to play his third concert here in about a year is because he is just a short drive away. He moved away from the picturesque and sublime province of Newfoundland and away from the great big Labrador Sea – He now resides in the culture hub of Ottawa Ontario.

“I like that I can just hop in my car and drive down to Cornwall and perform in a beautiful room like the Aultsville Theatre. The island of Newfoundland is as big as Texas but the entire population is only about 500,000, so there really isn’t enough work to sustain an artist like me. I miss the smell of the sea,” Sean McCann stated.

The road from Ottawa to Cornwall is about an hour away, but the road to recovery was a much longer journey for Sean McCann. The story of Sean McCann’s struggle with alcoholism broke out when he was interviewed by CBC. It had been announced that he would be leaving Great Big Sea after the bands 20th Anniversary tour (which included a stop at the Civic Complex here in Cornwall Ontario).

Sean McCann, who released the solo album “Help Yourself”, learned to help himself and has been sober for five years this November. He recounts the support from his wife and family, and he reminds us that we are all worthy of being loved, and that with family we are never alone. With that support, he was able to help himself.

“I realized I had a problem when I turned 40 and began to experience blackouts. I googled the term “alcoholic” and a questionnaire came up and I passed with flying colours. I tried and failed to quit drinking several times and it was only through the intervention of my wife that I was able to finally face my past and overcome my addiction. Music is my medicine and my struggle is ongoing but seems to get easier as time moves forward. I will be 5 years sober on November 9th and I feel great. I would remind anyone who suffers from addiction that we are all worthy of love and that together we are never alone,” Sean McCann reminisced.

Sean McCann is proud of what he, Alan Doyle, and Bob Hallett accomplished with the band Great Big Sea, however, don’t expect a reunion show anytime soon. According to Sean McCann it was an unhealthy place for him, and he has no desire to go back.

“We are still financially entangled unfortunately, so once a year there are accountants and lawyers to pay off but other than that we are not really in contact. I am proud of what we accomplished in Great Big Sea but ultimately it was an unhealthy place for me and I have no desire to go back. I wish both Alan and Bob well in whatever paths they choose.

Sean McCann has been making a name for himself as a solo artist. He had a successful first album recorded by Joel Plaskett. He also released ‘The Sean McCann Song Book Volume One’. The book sold out and is now on its second pressing. There will be a volume two, and new songs out by early 2017.

“I am almost through my second pressing and people seem to have really embraced the idea of combining the songs with Meaghan Smith’s brilliant Artwork along with Musical notation, lyrics, and guitar chords. It was a lot of work … a true labour of love but in the end it definitely resonated with my audience and helped everyone sing along so I believe it was worth all the effort. I will be working on Volume 2 with my friend and Ottawa neighbour Jeremy Fisher early in the new year. Songwriting is a habit I just can’t seem to quit,” Sean McCann added.

Sean McCann’s songwriting translated in a new song that made headlines this summer. Earlier this year Sean McCann wrote the song “Proud (To Be a Canadian)” in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross to benefit victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires.

The fire destroyed property, but also caused psychological damage. Sean McCann hopes music can in some small way help with the healing process.

“There really wasn’t a lot of direct reaction from either Fort McMurray or the Red Cross to be honest. I know there is still huge fallout from the fire especially with regards to mental health so I assume they have bigger issues to deal with right now. I was genuinely moved by how we responded as a nation and gave the song freely and from my heart. I sincerely hope that in some small way it helps people feel better. I would like to sing the song in Fort McMurray some day,” Sean McCann said.

Music has always been an important part of Sean McCann’s life. He even named his two beagles after Bob Marley. He likes the simplicity of Bob Marley’s music, and the fact that that he overcame hardship with love.

“I like the direct simplicity of Marley’s lyrics. Bob Marley overcame much hardship in his life and was a true revolutionary who believed that Love and Freedom were things worth fighting for. His songs make me feel happy inside,” Sean McCann reflected.

Sean McCann, who was as very impressed with Cornwall Musicfest, is looking forward to playing Cornwall again. He hopes to see many familiar faces at Aultsville Theatre on November 25th.

“I really enjoyed my night at the Cornwall Music festival. The grounds were beautiful and so were all the cool Cornwall people I met. A festival is not a small thing to take on so Davey and Jason have my full respect. I think they did a great big job and have nowhere to go next year but up. I hope that everyone who saw me sing at the festival comes to see my show at the Aultsville Theatre on November 25th because I have a whole lot more to share,” Sean McCann concluded.

The show starts at 7pm and tickets are $26.50. You can purchase tickets online or at the Cornwall Civic Complex box office.

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